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Cancer treatment

Cancer treatments are provided throughout many South Australian public and private hospitals in both metropolitan and rural areas. When a treatment has been recommended, you will be referred to the cancer centre that can provide the treatment closest to where you live.

Types of treatment

There are many types of treatment for cancer and a person with a diagnosis of cancer often receives a combination of these during their cancer journey.

The main treatments for cancer are:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • hormone therapy
  • targeted therapy.

Treatment intent

Treatment options can be aimed at:

  • Inducing remission - partial or complete removal of cancer from your body.
  • Cure - complete removal/destruction of all cancer cells.
  • Control - stop or slow the growth of cancer.
  • Palliation - reducing symptoms such as pain or nausea caused by the cancer or its treatment.

Clinical trials

During their cancer journey a patient may be asked if they wish to take part in a clinical trial.

A clinical trial is a research study that tests new treatment options and approaches. This may include:

  • using new methods to detect and diagnose cancer
  • making new drugs available
  • providing new treatments
  • improving quality of life.

Taking part in a clinical trial is optional. The patient may benefit as a result of the trial however an improved outcome is not guaranteed. The patient would need to weigh up the risks and benefits and ask many questions of the doctors and researchers before agreeing to a trial.

Complementary therapy

Complementary therapies are used together with evidence-based conventional treatments. They do not cure cancer but may help to relieve symptoms or side effects and improve well-being. Examples of complementary therapies include:

  • acupuncture
  • aromatherapy
  • art therapy
  • massage therapy
  • meditation
  • visualisation
  • yoga.

Risks of complementary therapies

It is important for cancer patients using or considering complementary therapies to discuss this decision with their doctor or nurse. Some complementary therapies may interfere with standard treatment (making them less effective) or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment. You should not stop treatment or alter the treatment plan developed by your doctor without first discussing this decision with them.

Alternative therapies

By definition, alternative therapies are used instead of conventional therapies to treat cancer. Most of these have not been scientifically tested nor have little evidence supporting their safety and effectiveness. Examples of alternative therapies include shark cartilage, special diets and herbal treatments.

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